The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. (But I do, Lord. I want all kinds of things, especially things I don’t need.)
He makes me lie down in green pastures; (Yet I don’t rest. Or graze. I am active and busy, looking for tastier food, searching for more than you offer, filling my hours as I see fit.)
He leads me beside quiet waters. (And yet I am so thirsty. Why do I thirst?)
He restores my soul; he guides me in the path of righteousness for his name’s sake. (I feel fragmented, not restored, not always. The path isn’t always easy to find. Why do I wander and lose sight of it? Do you let me go?)
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil (Oh, but I do. I fear every day. The world seems so big and dark around me) for you are with me (Are you? I’m on the precipice again and can’t see your face);
Your rod and your staff, they comfort me. (In the dark of the night, where do I go for comfort? Why does it flee from me? Some days the anxiety overtakes me, and comfort isn’t to be found.)
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; (And yet I hunger. I don’t relax. Enemies surround me and come for my life. I have no appetite for a feast, but I faint in need of it.)
You have anointed my head with oil; my cup overflows. (Then why do I look in that cup and see the bottom, staring up at me? Why do I feel empty or alone or unprotected sometimes?)
Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. (But do I dwell now? If goodness is following, why do I run and hide so it can’t catch me?)
Still waters. Green pastures. A place to dwell. Comfort. Safety. A feast. But I resist, a roaming sheep. Hear my repentance, oh God, for not being a lamb, a child quiet at the breast. For running a frantic search for other things, listening for other shepherds. For running like a dog, to and fro, sniffing the wind for new scents. Your promises are life and love and security, yet I wander the stony cliffs, hanging from the edges, fearing a fall, when resting within your sight would bring me safety forever. Return to me the tender trust of a little lamb, toddling after its shepherd on scrawny legs, hiding beneath his robes and peering out in safety, tucked in the shepherd’s arms when the path is too rough to travel on his own legs. The lamb trusts, and he knows only warmth and security. I wish to be the lamb again, every day, hearing only your voice, following with no fear. Help me to let go of myself and be the lamb abiding in the shepherd’s care.
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.